Idaho’s Republican Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 124 (pdf), which removes student ID cards from the list of acceptable identification to vote, on March 15.
Idaho law requires photo identification at the polls before voting in person. Students will be prohibited from using their photo ID cards issued by a high school or accredited universities from the list of acceptable forms of identification.
The remaining forms of identification accepted at Idaho polling places are an Idaho driver’s license or identification card issued by the Idaho Transportation Department, a U.S. passport or photo ID card issued by an agency of the U.S. government, a tribal photo identification card, and a license to carry concealed weapons.
Republican state Sen. Scott Herndon, the bill’s sponsor, argued that student IDs could produce voter fraud.
“The problem with them is there is no uniformity,” Herndon said on the Senate floor, according to the Idaho Capital Sun. “The reason that we, again, want to get rid of the student ID is that we can not have as much assurance through that method of identification that the voter standing at the poll to vote is who they say they are.”
Other Lawmakers Weigh In
Democrat state Sen. Melissa Wintrow led the debate against the bill.
“I want to communicate to our students that they are valued and that they should be engaged in the government process. And I do not want to send any kind of message of value that we don’t want them at the polls, and I think that does communicate a message,” Wintrow said.
Republican state Rep. Tina Lambert supported the bill.
“Student IDs are often not considered a reliable form of identification for voting because they are issued by educational institutions, which may not have strict standards for verifying a person’s identity,” Lambert said in a statement to Idaho News 6. “We must implement measures that are effective at preventing fraud while also making it as easy as possible for eligible citizens to vote. This bill does that.”
The information included on a student ID card varies between universities. Boise State University’s ID cards include the individual’s name, photo, student number, and the expiration date of the card.
The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
The Idaho Legislature is considering several other bills related to elections, including proposals to restrict the use of absentee ballots and to move the state’s presidential primary from March to May.